The mean age of marriage of women in India has been showing a constant upward trend, according to the latest information released by the Sample Registration System (SRS) survey for 2018. While the mean age of marriage of women in India stood at 21.2 years in the 2011 Census and improved to 22.1 years in 2017 according to the SRS survey for that year, the latest data for 2018 shows a further improvement to 22.3 years.
Many other data points listed in this survey also suggest that the age at which women are getting married is being pushed further upwards. For instance, 1.7% of all women married in urban areas in 2017 were found to be under 18 years. In the 2018 survey, this figure stood at 1.6%.
While the increase of 0.1% may not seem much, if one considers the sample size of the survey - 81 lakh - this hike could be seen as a change in the lives of a substantial proportion of the Indian female population.
The percentage of women married in rural areas below 18, which was 2.6%, however, remains unchanged. As does the overall figure of women under 18 years who were married in India in 2018 -- 2.3%. But if one were to look at the results of individual states, the states where most females under 18 were getting married in the 2017 survey have shown an improvement. This could be considered a success against the social ill of child brides.
For instance in Jharkhand, 4.2% of all women married were under 18 in 2017. In rural Jharkhand, this figure jumped to a high of 5.2%. In the latest survey, Jharkhand registers only 2.5% of all women married under 18. The figure for rural Jharkhand is 3.1% in 2018.
The state which fares the worst in the latest survey is West Bengal where underage brides are 3.7% of all married women. Rajasthan follows close behind with 3.5% underage women married in 2018.
Bengal also has the lowest mean age of women married in 2018 - 20.9 years.
Rajasthan and Bihar are tied second with the mean age of marriage of women at 21.7. Jammu and Kashmir has the maximum mean age of marriage of women at 26.7 years. It topped the table in 2017 also with a mean age of 25.6 years.
Kerala has the least percentage of women under 18 years who were married in 2018 - 0.9%.
Some other southern states like Tamil Nadu (1.9%), Telangana (1.8%) and Karnataka (1.5%) have also registered marriage of women under 18 well below the national average.
Delhi seems to have slid in this respect. The Union Territory registered the least proportion of its under 18 women being married in 2017 - 0.4%. In 2018 this figure climbed to 1.3%.